He was tangling with Robert Kubica. With Felipe Massa. With Sebastien Buemi. With both Force Indias. As is being talked about at other posts here at F1B, Schumacher had a pretty ragged race in many respects.
So what happened?
â€œAt the start, everything went great and we made up places as we had been hoping for. The first stop was perfectly timed so it was looking quite promising. Then I had a puncture on the front right tyre after my first pit stop, after I got together with Kubica, and that obviously decided my race. From there, I was stuck in traffic and there was nothing more to do because today our weapons were not very sharp. Towards the end, I was trying as hard as I could to defend myself but it was only possible to a certain degree and my tyres were just ruined after having done more than half the race distance. I was fighting cars with a good top speed which was quite tough. Otherwise I would have been in a good position I think so we have something to take away to the next races.
Ross Brawn adds this:
â€œWe had a messy start to the race which unfortunately is what happens when you start in the midfield. Nico was blocked and Michael was hit which broke part of his front wing. Nico then had a very good race to recover up to sixth place. We called the tyres perfectly, Nico was fast where he needed to be, looked after the car when required and generally had an excellent race. Michael was looking strong in the first phase of the race and was very well-placed. Unfortunately the incident with Kubica punctured the right front tyre and coming in for the extra stop meant we were out of phase with where we wanted to be with the tyres. With hindsight, it was over-ambitious to try and get the option to last as long as we did and Michael really struggled towards the end. Weâ€™ve come away with some points from the weekend but not as many as we would have hoped.â€
So, toward the end of the race, when both the Massa and Force India action was going on, Schumacher was skating around on ice, they claim. Does that ring true? And even if it does, what about earlier on. Schumacher’s race was eventful throughout. Admittedly, so were plenty of others’, as well.
But he’s a seven-time champion working with his winning partner in Brawn.
If it seems like I’m piling on Michael, I… well, I guess I am. I do think he seemed a little loosey goosey out there on Sunday, to a surprising degree. Heck, even Mark Webber on worn tires was holding it together more. I also have to admit that I think we’re fully into “put up or shut up” time for Michael. Now, of course I’ve never been in an F1 car, and like almost all of us I’m ultimately an arm chair critic, but it seems like Michael should be close to back on form by now. Maybe the lack of testing is hurting him (and others like him, such as Pedro de la Rosa), and maybe he miscalculated how the comeback would go during a season with the testing ban.
But he’s Michael Schumacher, and expectations are, perhaps unfairly, high.